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Sunday February 5th

Faculty describe experiences with electric bikes as UNC plans for new e-bike service

<p>Deborah Stroman, an adjunct professor in the Department of Health Behavior, is one of a number of UNC faculty who commute to campus by e-bike. Photo courtesy of Stroman.</p>
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Deborah Stroman, an adjunct professor in the Department of Health Behavior, is one of a number of UNC faculty who commute to campus by e-bike. Photo courtesy of Stroman.

After Tar Heel bikes ended in May, the University said it plans to announce a new service in the fall to replace it that will have electric-assist bikes.

Many campus community members have already been using these bikes and have discovered numerous benefits to them. These benefits include convenience, recreation and a positive impact on the environment. 

Electric bikes — commonly referred to as e-bikes — have an electric motor to assist riders as they pedal. 

Camille G. Mason, assistant director of Alumni Giving and Engagement at UNC, said she likes to use her e-bike for her commute to work.

Mason said she always biked to work at the previous universities she worked for, but she couldn’t handle the hills in Chapel Hill on a normal bike. 

She learned about e-bikes through her cousin, who bought one during the pandemic and talked about how much he liked it.

“And so when I heard about it, I had no idea what an e-bike was,” Mason said. “And I started to research a little bit more about e-bikes and I fell in love with the one I bought through Trek at the Chapel Hill store.”

Mason said she found that she gets to her destination a lot faster than other traffic on her e-bike.

She recommended bicycling to others, although she said it doesn’t have to be an e-bike.

“I just think people should get out and ride and cycle if they love it," Mason said. "I don't care if it's an e-bike or a regular bike, you know, depends on your needs and your wants and all of that."

Elizabeth Basnight, assistant director of business programs at NCGrowth, said she uses her bike to commute to work as well. 

"I've got several colleagues who bike, and so it's fun when we have meetings on campus or in Chapel Hill to bike together to those things," Basnight said.

She added that biking is a good way to get exercise, help the environment and feel free.

Deborah Stroman, a professor at the Gillings School of Global Public Health, said she had used a road bike since she was a child, but that the pandemic spurred her to get an electric one.

“So that's what I ride primarily now,” Stroman said.

Stroman said that biking has allowed her to reduce stress and form friendships. She said she’s a part of the cycling group Black Girls Do Bike.

“It's a national organization and we have a chapter here in the triangle,” Stroman said. "So I enjoy riding with them as well.

Stroman said her experience using her e-bike on campus has been very positive.

“The only challenge is if you're trying to bike in between classes,” she said.

During that time, she explained, a lot of students are out so it gets crowded and difficult to bike.

Stroman said she hopes that UNC will add signage for better directions.

“Signage is always a good thing,” Stroman said. "Giving people better directions. But you have to be careful with that because you don't want to take away from the beauty and the architecture of the university.”

Stroman said she enjoys riding near South Building and the Old Well.

"It’s not like we have bike paths throughout campus, so it's kind of hard to have a favorite place," Stroman said. "The entire beauty of the campus is enough to ride through.”

UNC is recognized by the League of American Bicyclists as a silver-level Bicycle Friendly University. Bike racks and repair stations are scattered throughout campus, and the University offers 50 percent off u-locks for registered bikes.

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